Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #40
CE Offered: BACB
Resurgence and Relapse: From Bench to Bedside
Sunday, May 29, 2016
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Zurich D, Swissotel
Area: EAB/EDC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Claire C. St. Peter (West Virginia University)
Discussant: Christopher A. Podlesnik (Florida Institute of Technology)
CE Instructor: Claire C. St. Peter, Ph.D.
Abstract: Resurgence refers to the recovery of responding during a disruptor to a previously effective differential reinforcement procedure. Although resurgence is known to be a relatively robust phenomenon, we do not yet know the factors that exacerbate or mitigate resurgence effects. In this symposium, the presenters will use data-based evaluations from laboratory studies with nonhuman subjects to clinical interventions for severe challenging behavior to explore the conditions under which resurgence occurs and variables that could be manipulated to affect resurgence. These variables include features of the response (like the effort necessary to emit the response) and of the reinforcement-schedule arrangement (alternation of contingencies, reinforcer magnitude, or response-independent reinforcement in place of traditional extinction). In all cases, resurgence occurs during the transition from differential reinforcement to extinction. However, the magnitude of the resurgence changes as a function of variables in the organism’s histories. Further understanding these variables may illuminate behavioral process and allow clinicians to design interventions that are more resistant to treatment disruptors.
Keyword(s): behavioral momentum, extinction, relapse, resurgence

Alternative-Reinforcer Magnitude Effects on Response Suppression and Resurgence

KAITLYN BROWNING (Utah State University), Andrew R. Craig (Utah State University), Timothy A. Shahan (Utah State University)

Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) based treatments are commonly used approaches to suppressing problem behaviors. However, removal of alternative reinforcement following treatment often results in resurgence of problem behavior. The quantitative model of resurgence based on behavioral momentum theory proposed by Shahan and Sweeney (2011) predicts that larger magnitude alternative reinforcement should produce faster suppression of the target behavior but also greater resurgence following removal of treatment. To date, these novel predictions have not been directly tested. Thus, the present study assessed the effects of alternative reinforcer magnitude on response suppression and resurgence. Following baseline, rats responded for either a high- (5 pellets) or low- (1 pellet) magnitude alternative reinforcer during extinction of the target response. Resurgence was then assessed following removal of alternative reinforcers. High-magnitude alternative reinforcement was more effective in suppressing target responding compared to low-magnitude alternative reinforcement. Further, there was a greater increase in target responding following removal of high-magnitude alternative reinforcement but target responding did not increase following removal of low-magnitude alternative reinforcement. Thus, high-magnitude alternative reinforcement might produce more desirable effects than low-magnitude reinforcement during DRA-based treatment, but it may also produce behavior that is more susceptible to resurgence following treatment.

Resurgence During Local Extinction Periods Following VI to FI Schedule Transitions
TYLER NIGHBOR (West Virginia University), Christian Yensen (West Virginia University), Kennon Andy Lattal (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Resurgence of a previously reinforced response occurs reliably following the introduction of conventional extinction of an alternatively reinforced response. Resurgence also may occur following local periods of extinction, such as those present within fixed-interval schedules. Four pigeons were trained to key peck under a VI 60-s schedule in the initial phase. Then an alternative reinforcement phase was implemented wherein responding was extinguished on the initial key and alternatively reinforced on an alternative key according to a VI 90-s schedule. During the resurgence phase, rather than conventional extinction, the VI 90-s condition was changed to an FI 90-s schedule. A resurgence effect occurredfor one subject. The FI value then was increased to 180 s, and resurgence occurred with three of the four subjects. Following these across-session resurgence assessments, a within-session resurgence procedure was used, wherein all three phases of the resurgence procedure occurred within individual sessions. The resurgence effect occurred with all subjects when the FI value was either 90 s or 180 s. The analysis of responding within each FI interreinforcer interval revealed that resurgence occurred during the post-reinforcement pause.

Translational Research: Examining the Effects of Response Effort on Resurgence

KIMBERLY M. WALTER (New England Center for Children), Chata A. Dickson (New England Center for Children)

Little is known about effects of response effort on behavioral resurgence. In this translational study we evaluated rate of responding following reinforcement and extinction of two different responses. Six typically developing adults received points on a VI 3 s schedule for touching moving targets (R1 and R2) on a computer screen. To create disparity in response effort we manipulated the speed and size of the targets. Each session consisted of three phases: Establishment of R1, Differential Reinforcement of an Alternative Response (DRA), and a test for Resurgence (EXT for R1 and R2). Rate of responding in the Resurgence test was compared across three conditions: (a) R1 and R2 were the same size and speed (equal difficulty), (b) R1 was a larger, slower-moving target (easy response) and R2 was a smaller, faster-moving target (difficult response), and (c) R1 was the difficult response and R2 was the easy response. The order of conditions b and c was balanced across participants. In 9 of 12 cases, there was greater resurgence when the easy response was established first than when the difficult response was established first.


Reducing Resurgence Using Fixed-Time Reinforcement Schedules

LUCIE ROMANO (West Virginia University), Claire C. St. Peter (West Virginia University), Gabrielle Mesches (West Virginia University), Apral Foreman (West Virginia University)

We evaluated the extent to which using clinically acceptable fixed-time schedules of reinforcement would prevent resurgence of protesting displayed by four elementary-aged children. Two of the four participants experienced thinning of a fixed-ratio schedule during the alternative phase, and two of the four participants experienced a variable-ratio 3-s schedule. Reinforcement rates during the fixed-time phase were yoked to reinforcement rates experienced by each individual participant during the last three sessions of the preceding alternative phase. Levels of resurgence during the fixed-time phase were evaluated in comparison to levels of resurgence during an extinction probe. Resurgence occurred to a lesser extent during the fixed-time phase than during the extinction probe for all four participants.




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